Monday, November 24, 2014

Damned Sinner Tour & Giveaway with Jami Denise




 

 

Cover

Damned Sinner by

Jami Denise (The Jayne Series), Book Three

Can be read as a stand-alone



NOW AVAILABLE

Amazon: tbd

Barnes & Noble: tbd

iTunes: tbd


RELEASE DATE:  November 24, 2014

 

 

 

Blurb

Vince Donovan has lost a lot in his life. He has lived life under a code of greed, lies and crime - never allowing anyone to get too close. After losing the empire he fought to build at the hands of a psychotic man in pursuit of revenge, Vince vows to rebuild what he once had. Along with his once protege and now partner, Jayne King, he sets out to create an empire that is based on beautiful women, sex and sin.

 

Kelsey Franklin is young, beautiful, sexy and should be forbidden. Kelsey is also the one woman that Vince has vowed never to have and yet is the one woman he wants and needs.

 

When love happens in the unlikeliest of circumstances Vince must ask himself - Is love fit for the damned and the sinner?

 

 



 

Excerpt

Her lips were glossy and covered with a thick sheen of red. I stared at her mouth while dragging a finger across them and let the paint follow a path down her chin, over her neck, and down her chest. The stain coated the light fabric of the white dress—spoiling it, just like I was spoiling her.

“You can see right through this,” I said roughly and dragged a finger underneath the neckline of the dress. Your little pink nipples are pushing right through it—aching and ready for someone to bite them.”

I let my teeth snap in her ear and then sucked the soft skin into my mouth. “A man like me sees a woman in a dress like this, and that’s what he wants. To touch the nipples you so willingly show off, to bite, pull, tug, and suck on them. He wants to pull those sweet little tits into his mouth, let his tongue run over them until your nipples are so hard they hurt.

She was shaking, but I wasn’t going to stop there. As if to show her exactly what I was talking about, I moved the palm of my hand over her shoulder and down to her chest. I cupped one of her ripe tits in my hand, squeezing softly at first, and then wrapped my fist around it tightly and pulled.

She whimpered, and her knees shook. I was testing her, and so far she failed. As badly as she thought she wanted what I had to give, she had no fucking clue what it meant. She wasn’t ready.

I released her from my grasp and ran my hand over her clavicle, smearing the rotten red mess all over her chest and the top of the dress before moving it down over her belly.

“I could see the valley between your legs when you walked down the hallway,” I growled in her ear. “I could see your little pussy, the sweet V where I’d sink my cock. All I could think about was your long, skinny legs wrapped around my back while I fucked you right there in the hallway.”

She whined. “Please, oh God.” She grabbed the collar of my shirt and tried to pull me closer. “Fuck me, Vince.”

My cock jumped in reply, but I ignored her and went on with my ministrations. I reached the hem of her skirt, and with a swift rip, I yanked it up over her hip. There wasn’t much of it there in the first place, so it was no big task. That pissed me off even more. There were maybe three inches of lift and I could see her pussy.

Rubbing my coarse finger over her soft, silky mound, I stood back and watched her face. I was testing her, but I wasn’t going to push her. If she showed an ounce of regret, I was done. But I had to see where she stood once and for all.

Her eyes fluttered open as if she could read my thoughts. They were as wide as a newborn chick, scared and astonished, but surprised and exhilarated.

But definitely not ready to leave the nest.

I gave her pussy one more swipe of my finger and then a light slap. The shock showed clear in her eyes, and her mouth fell slack with pleasure. I could feel that she was into it, slick and warm and malleable in my hands.

“That’s right, baby,” I said gruffly. “I want to tear this pussy up. I want to make this pussy cry. You have no idea what I want to do to you, and if you don’t stop teasing me, you’re bound to find out.”

She bucked her hips stubbornly, and I narrowed my eyes. Folding my fingers, I gave her clit a hard flick with enough force to knock a dog on its ass.

“You’re not ready for this—or me,” I said, lowering my voice. “I want to defile you in so many ways, but that’s not what you want.”

“Yes,” she said. Her voice shook, and I could feel her heavy heartbeat through her dress.

“I care about what happens to you, Kelsey,” I said as evenly as I could. “That’s why I took you home—where you belonged. If you think walking around in Jayne’s clothes will do you any good, you’re completely wrong. What I want to do with your body is the same thing every other man out there wants. The only difference is, they won’t stop.”

“Don’t stop,” she said weakly, tears sprouting from her eyes. “I can handle anything from you. I love you, and you damn well know it.”

She dropped to her knees abruptly and raised her hands to undo my fly. I had a brief moment of euphoria. This was a regular fantasy of mine to have her on her knees with her mouth on me. It was too fresh and way too clear for me to think straight.

I jerked her up by her shoulders and pinned her back against the wall. “Stop!”

She snarled and fought against my hold on her. “If you don’t want me, why do you care if someone else does?”

I slammed her lightly against the door and leaned forward again so we were eye to eye. “I do want you—that’s not the problem. I want to fuck you. There’s a difference.”



 

The Jayne Series Reading Order

 

 


 

See Jayne Play (The Jayne Series, Book One)

ONLY $0.99





 

Queen of Hearts (The Jayne Series, Book Two)





 

Damned Sinner (The Jayne Series, Book Three)

Releasing November 24, 2014


 


 

 

Additional Teaser (if needed)



 

About the Author:

Jami Denise



 

Jami Denise is a romance writer from Southern California. While she waits for the next felon to come along and sweep her off her feet, she writes about swoony bad boys and sassy gals that make them squirm. She also loves cats, cars, cupcake flavored lip balm, and cherry limeade.

 

Stalk Her: Facebook | Twitter | Website | Goodreads

 


 

GIVEAWAY

$10 Gift Card

Jayne Series Swag Pack



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Guest Post: Popular French Insults with Gwen Jones


POPULAR FRENCH INSULTS

 

I am by no means any expert on the French or France, but one thing I’ve learned along the way writing the “French Kiss” series is that the population does not suffer fools gladly. It’s not a case of being pompous or rude, it’s just ingrained, though and most of the time, or so I’ve heard, if you’re really annoying them, they simply ignore you. But when they don’t, their insults cut as sharp as a cheese blade. Here’s a few of my favorites gleaned from all over the place. And it might help if you know how to pronounce French, because you’re sure not going to get any help from me.

 

Tu es completement debile.

You’re a complete moron.

 

T'as une tête a faire sauter les plaques d'egouts.

You’ve got a face that would blow off manhole covers.

 

Le réalité et toi, vous ne vous entendez pas, n'est-ce pas?

Reality and you don’t get along, do they?

 

C'est marrant, mais vous êtes tellement moins attirante quand je n'ai pas bu.

You are so much less attractive when I'm sober.

 

Il/Elle a une tête à claques.

He/She has a face made for smacking.

 

Tu t’es coiffé avec un balai?

Did you comb your hair with a broom?

 

Tu pourrais te faire un manteau en fourrure avec ses poils du cul.

You could make a fur coat out of her butt hair.

 

To mère elle travaille à Monoprix.

Your mama works at Sam’s Club.

 

Sais-tu combien de temps ta mère prend pour chier? Neuf mois!

Do you know how much time your mother needs to take a shit? Nine months!

 

And lastly, for you do-it-yourself-ers, try this—


 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
 
 

About the Book

When Rex Renaud, the COO of Mercier Shipping, is arrested for a crime he didn't commit, he knows he'll need a miracle to clear his name … and sassy lawyer Charlotte Andreko is the perfect woman for the job. Charlotte has built her career defending pro bono clients against womanizers like Rex Renaud, and she'd much rather let him sweat it out in a jail cell than defend him in court. Yet Rex swears he's been set up, and when he offers her a shocking sum of money in exchange for her legal counsel, the financial security is too tempting to resist. The court dubs Rex a serious flight risk—how many people have their own jet?—and he's released on one condition: Charlotte's his new jailer, and he's stuck with her until his arraignment. But when a bomb threat sends Rex and Charlotte on the run, neither is prepared for the explosive chemistry and red-hot passion that flare between them as they hunt for the truth about his arrest. - See more at: http://www.avonromance.com/book/gwen-jones-the-laws-of-seduction#sthash.DMeJRhWU.dpuf

 

About the Author

Gwen Jones is a mentor and instructor in Western Connecticut State University’s Master in Creative and Professional Writing program, and an Assistant Professor of English at Mercer County College, in West Windsor, NJ. Her work has appeared in Writer’s Digest, The Kelsey Review, and The Connecticut River Review, and she is the author of the HarperCollins Avon FRENCH KISS series, Wanted: Wife, Kiss Me, Captain, and The Laws of Seduction. A writer of women’s fiction and romance, she lives with her husband, Frank, near Trenton, New Jersey.

 

Visit my website – Gwen Jones Writes

Like me on Facebook - gwenjoneswrites

Follow me on Twitter – gwenjones25

Buy my books!  - See all titles

 

Buy Links


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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Accepted Blitz & Giveaway with Coleen Lahr

 
Accepted by Coleen Lahr
Publication date: November 4th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult

Synopsis:  
Ashley Smith spent her life being shipped from one family member to the next. When Ashley’s estranged father dies, she finally has the money to go to college and the chance to find a place where she belongs.
 
Within days, Ashley has found the one thing she’s always longed for – a family. She may have even found love. There’s only one problem. Ashley likes Colin…a lot, but so does Randi, and everyone likes Randi. Randi’s approval is the single easiest way to belong. Falling in love with Randi’s crush is the single easiest way to find oneself on the outside for the next three years.

When Ashley arrived at college, she never dreamed she’d find this kind of happiness. Will she allow herself to hold on to this happiness, and Colin, or will her fear of losing her friends, the only friends she’s ever known, dictate her actions?


Purchase:

GIVEAWAY
Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
  • 15$ Amazon Gift Card
  • eBook copy of Accepted
  • Signed bookmark
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Excerpt

 

By the time we were halfway through reviewing the second chapter, I was fully engrossed by the disparity between the two sides of my body and had completely and utterly lost focus on Organic Chemistry. All of my focus was on the parts of my body that pressed against Colin. I only hoped Colin wouldn’t notice.

            “You alright, Ash?”

            And, of course, he did.

            “Huh?” was my brilliant answer.

            “Are you okay? You’re kind of out of it.”

            I needed an excuse. I didn’t think, "Oh, I was just daydreaming about having your body pressed against mine," would cut it.

            “Oh, um, I’m sorry.” I shook my head, trying to dispel the fog. “I was just trying to figure out where I was going to sleep tonight. Becca went home, and I didn’t think to borrow her key.”

            Awesome save, Ashley.

            “Rookie mistake,” he joked and nudged his shoulder into mine, pushing his body harder against my side. “I forget that this is your first semester here. It’s strange. I feel like I’ve known you so much longer than just a couple of months.”

            Then, he turned his face to mine—it was just a couple of inches away—and smiled warmly. I looked into his eyes, and the heat that had been just in my right side spread through the rest of my body.

            Colin’s expression suddenly changed, and he looked away.

            “You could, you know, sleep in here.” He shrugged.

            He looked so nervous that I actually smiled.

            “I’d sleep in Brett’s bed, of course.” He looked up at me and continued, more confident now. “I won’t try anything funny.”

            I don’t know how it slipped out, but all of a sudden, I heard myself reply in a husky, flirtatious voice, “It’s not the funny stuff that I’m worried about.” Then, I felt the corners of my mouth tip up.

            I had no idea where it came from. As soon as the words came out, I knew I shouldn’t have opened my mouth, and now that they were out there, I couldn’t take them back.

            Suddenly, the entire atmosphere of the room changed. The air was thicker somehow, and I was even more aware of Colin next to me, as if that were possible.

            Our eyes locked, and he leaned toward me, closing the inches of space between us.

            I knew he was going to kiss me. I also knew I wasn’t going to stop him.

            I closed my eyes and tilted my head back, knowing this may be a bad idea and that it may change things—and not in a good way—but also knowing that right then, at that second, and in that moment, I couldn’t stop it.

            And as I waited for Colin’s lips to touch mine, I realized that there wasn’t anything either of us could do to stop it. There wasn’t anything anyone could do to stop it.



AUTHOR BIO  
Coleen writes young adult novels, loves running, rock music, the shore, daisies and bread.

When Coleen's not plotting or writing her next book, she can be found making sandwiches in her family's restaurant, running (but mostly walking) Disney marathons, reading any book she can get her hands on and playing with her adorable kid. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, daughter, two dogs and lizard.

Author Links:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Merr-E Holiday Treat from Pocket Star eBooks Presents BRANDED by Colette Auclair



SLACK FRIDAY: NOVEMBER 28, 2014

 

 

Avoid crazed shopping crowds!

Keep calm and carry on at home with these great

Merr-E Holiday Treats from Pocket Star eBooks!
 
 


BRANDED  
Colette Auclair
December 15, 2014
$5.99
 
SUMMARY:
The third lighthearted romance in Colette Auclair’s award-winning Aspen Valley series, Branded will take readers on a wild and dreamy ride through the beautiful valleys and mountains of Colorado.  Professional, polite, and pearl-wearing, dressage rider and resort consultant Cordy Sims is the last person anyone would expect to initiate a weekend of debauchery. And yet, that’s exactly what she does after meeting a handsome stranger at an Aspen resort. Agreeing that they’ll leave personal details at the door, they indulge in a memorable weekend of carnal recreation. On Sunday night, Cordy doesn’t want to leave this charming, seductive man, but she must play by her own rules.

On Monday, Cordy sits in a meeting at the ad agency that’s hired her as a freelancer, and her professional and personal worlds collide. Turns out agency owner Jack Cormier looks just as good in the boardroom as he did in the bedroom. Forced to work together, Cordy and Jack can’t ignore the chemistry that crackles between them, or the deeper feelings that have developed. But secrets and scars from their pasts may prove too formidable, even for a love that’s as powerful as it is unexpected. 
 
EXCERPT:
Sometimes things aren’t what they seem, but it seemed to Cordy that indeed, there was a man in a
tuxedo riding down the chairlift in Aspen. And he was probably drunk, which meant she wanted nothing to do with him.
 
It was exactly six-thirty-two a.m. on May 16, four hours before the lifts opened. She stood there, panting
and staring. He was floating toward her, one arm slung along the back of the chair and a foot, also in
formal wear, perched on the seat. The bands of his unfurled bow tie fluttered in the breeze.
 
My first morning in Aspen and already there’s a guy in a tuxedo. Talk about a town living up to the hype. The app on her phone beeped, telling her she’d logged five miles and could begin her cool-down. After this run, she would officially begin her part-work, part-leisure long weekend. She shook her head and started across the black-diamond run, which without snow was steep but hardly treacherous. As usual, she imagined how Marcas, her horse, would handle it—her dressage horse wasn’t the world’s best trail horse, but she still wished he were here with her. It would be fun to explore the mountains from his back. Maybe she’d have him shipped to Colorado, if she ended up staying longer than a few weeks.
 
“Damn!” the man said, bringing Cordy back to the present. What, you just realized you were riding a ski lift the wrong way? Cordy thought as she kept walking. She looked up the hill in time to see a silver cylinder hit the grass. It bounced and tumbled down the ski slope, winking in the sun. Remarkably, it stopped short, wedging itself between two small nearby boulders with a muffled metallic clink.
 
“Excuse me, darlin’,” yelled the man.
 
Darlin’? Cordy looked up. She was not this man’s darlin’, but she was the only one around.
 
“It seems my shaker and I have parted company. Could I trouble you to fetch it for me?”
 
He had a Southern accent. “Why do you have a martini shaker?”
 
“I was making martinis.”
 
Silly me. “On a ski lift?” He was passing overhead so she had to crane her neck to see him.
 
“Last evening. If you could just recover it, I’d be eternally grateful.” He half-turned to face her as he
glided by.
 
“Where were you making martinis?”
 
“Top of the mountain.”
 
“For mountain goats?”
 
She thought he grinned. “Will you please get it for me? It has great sentimental value.”
 
She had to yell pretty loud now. “Then why’d you drop it?”
 
“Could you bring it to the hotel bar?”
 
“When?”
 
He shouted something, but she couldn’t make it out. What an idiot, to drop a martini shaker. What
an idiot to have a martini shaker on a chair lift. Still, it was an interesting turn of events, and a good omen for this new chapter in her life. Quirky. Not exciting, but unusual. She made her way down the slope and plucked the shaker from the boulders. It was dimpled from its fl ight, but she could make out the engraved initials JCL.
 
Who are you, JCL? “Guess I’ll fi nd out later today,” she muttered. “If he isn’t too drunk to remember.”
 
She looked down the mountain and saw that the man had neglected to jump off the lift and was headed back up.
 
Wow. He’s super drunk. She didn’t particularly want to have another shouted conversation, so she jogged into the trees, out of earshot. Still, she heard his voice.
 
“Take care of that shaker, darlin’!”
 
Cordy couldn’t remember if she’d ever been to a restaurant bar as it opened. It made her feel so…pathetic. Occasionally she’d lingered over a late brunch and been around when the dinner service began. But this? Nah.
 
It wasn’t every day you had to return a martini shaker to a man who shouted to you from a ski lift.
A handsome man. Scratch that—a handsome drunk. He might not even make it here. She’d have a cocktail and if he didn’t show by the time she’d finished, she’d head back to her room, because she had better things to do—those notes on the Pinnacle Resort weren’t going to write themselves.
 
Setting the shaker on the bar, she picked up the cocktail menu. The thirtysomething bartender materialized before her, a dime-sized portion of a darkgreen tattoo peeking above his starched white collar. His light-brown hair kept to itself, a disciplined wavy mass Cordy found appealing. He angled his head and indicated the shaker.
 
“We’re a full-service resort. We have our own shakers, but if you insist . . .”
 
What? She followed his gaze. “Oh! I’m returning that.”
 
“So you’re the one.” He raised his chin.
 
“I didn’t steal it!” The bartender laughed and after a beat, Cordy felt her cheeks relax. “Oh. You’re kidding.” Lighten up, Cordy! “What I mean is, the owner is coming to get it.”
 
“Looks like a nice one. Would you like me to wipe it off for you?”
 
“No,” Cordy said quickly and too primly. She didn’t want to do that clumsy drunk guy any favors
because she felt put-upon as it was. It was her own fault—no one forced her to retrieve the shaker—but
she resented him all the same. “It’s fine as is.” She was waiting for a stranger for whom she’d done a favor. She should feel good; instead, she felt . . . owed. May as well enjoy myself while I wait. And act like a “real” guest. With that in mind, she went for decadent and ordered a champagne cocktail. To counter her immediate guilt, she followed with a respectable and nutritious Cobb salad. She gazed at the entrance to the bar one more time, noting the dark-wood backdrop and the paintings and fabrics in the oranges, reds, and purples of a mountain sunset. Then she pulled out her leather notebook and Cross pen and began to write her initial impressions of the Pinnacle Resort at Aspen.
 
Thirty minutes later, as her cocktail neared its logical conclusion (she was an admittedly slow drinker) and her salad was gone, Cordy had mellowed. A smattering of other customers had come in, which Cordy calculated was average for fi ve o’clock on a Friday in the off-season.
 
The off-season. Her favorite phrase because it had given her a dream career that allowed her to make a
good living, own and show a horse, and travel around the world. She had become a go-to professional for how to make more money in the off-season. She could look at a resort, no matter where it was, and come up with ways to make hay when the sun didn’t shine, as it were. For Cordy, it was akin to taking a meh horse and making it a wow horse. She used to think anyone could see the off-season potential in a resort, but she accepted that she had a knack, though she was still reluctant to believe the hype heaped on her by happy clients. After working for a company that ran several resorts around the world, she went out on her own. Pinnacle was her first project as an independent contractor, but the winter resort wasn’t her client. A small Aspen ad agency that was trying to impress Pinnacle had hired her to overdeliver and wow them. She was a surprise bonus, and her recommendation could be the tipping point.
 
Or that’s what the agency was banking on. She thought they were overly optimistic, but they were paying her well, so she’d give them their money’s worth.
 
She had already completed a page of bullet points after being at Pinnacle for less than twenty-four
hours. Not bad.
 
Was someone playing a piano? As Cordy looked around, a lock of shiny wheat-colored hair fell in front
of her face. As she shoved it behind her ear, she saw a fresh champagne cocktail in front of her. “Excuse me,” she called to the bartender, who rushed over. “I didn’t order this.”
 
“It’s on the house, madam.” Did management know why she was here and was trying to impress her? As
though she were a secret shopper or something? “Really? Why?”
 
“A gentleman came by and bought you a drink.”
 
“That’s impossible. I don’t know anyone here.”
 
“Begging your pardon, but that’s what happened.”
 
“Who was it?”
 
“He didn’t say,” the bartender replied as he wiped the bar.
 
 “Where is he? I ought to thank him.”
 
“He left.”
 
“What did he look like?”
 
The bartender filled his cheeks with air and puffed it out. “Dark hair. A little taller than me.” He
shrugged in defeat.
 
That didn’t help. If it was the martini guy, surely he would have taken the shaker.
 
The bartender spoke. “I’d say you have a secret admirer.”
 
“Right.” She said this merely to confirm she’d heard him because her attention was back on the
music. What is that song? I know that song. And where is the piano?
 
Oh no. No. No no no no no.
 
“Excuse me, again,” Cordy said. “But where’s the piano?” She struggled to sound polite and not distressed.
 
“Just behind that tree,” he said, nodding toward an impressively leafy plant in the middle of the room that stretched to the ceiling. Cordy threw back a mouthful of her complimentary drink, dabbed her lips with her napkin, and took a breath before striding to the hidden instrument.
 
The man’s hands were sure and efficient as they transformed the keys into a gorgeous melody. Playing
was muscle memory for him; that much was obvious. He rocked gently to the rhythm as though in a trance, oblivious to her or even that he was in the middle of a restaurant. If she weren’t in such a strange mood, she would have appreciated his talent and artistry. But the only thing she wanted to do was stop him.
 
“Excuse me,” she said.
 
No response.
 
She stared for a moment, willing him to look at her. The mental energy she expended could have bent
several spoons, possibly a spatula. Or a shovel. He kept going, damn him. “Excuse me!” she said, louder
this time.
 
He looked at her. Mildly. And literally didn’t miss a beat.
 
She was pretty sure it was the martini shaker guy. Of course. Because this was inconvenient, too. Maybe he didn’t recognize her. After all, he’d been flying overhead and three sheets to the wind when they’d met more than ten hours earlier. She sighed, flicked her hands at him, and said, “Could you maybe skip over this song and play something else?”
 
He shook his head and a few strands of pin-straight brown hair flopped into his eyes. “I’m sorry; I can’t
hear you. I’m playing the piano.”
 
God. She spoke louder. “Yes, I know. I was wondering if you could play a different song?” He continued
playing all those damned notes she hated, while conversing—of course he was—he was a professional,
what did she expect? It wasn’t even multitasking for him, it was his job to chat up diners while playing.
“This is a great song. Cole Porter. What do you have against Cole Porter?”
 
“Nothing, but—”
 
“This is part of my warm-up. I always play ‘So In Love.’ ”
 
It seemed he was embellishing the tune just to annoy her. The golden buzz from her vintage cocktail
had turned on her and was making her grumpy. He continued, “Have you ever heard the words?
They’re beautiful.” Then, to add musical insult to emotional injury, he started over and sang softly, so
only she could hear. Her own private concert from hell.
 
His voice was as smooth as a premium liqueur and his accent—Southern and lyrical—disappeared. Still,
hearing a declaration of a searing love come out of this man’s mouth only made her feel terrible. What
did Cole Porter know? This kind of love doesn’t exist except in songs. I should know. Her throat ached, her cheeks heated and, lo and behold, she was about to cry. This wasn’t going to happen. She clamped down on her unacceptable emotional response, leaned toward him, and said, “Please.” “I’ll finish—”
 
She blurted, “I’ll give you a hundred dollars to stop.”
 
He kept playing. “You abhor it that much?”
 
She rolled her eyes. “A hundred bucks to do less. Come on.”
 
“Deal.” He finished with a flourish, held out his hand with its long, strong fingers, and raised his eyebrows at her.
 
“I don’t have that much cash on me.” She folded her arms under her breasts.
 
“You should have thought of that before you bribed me to stop.”
 
“I’ll leave it with the bartender.”
 
“George? He’s a confirmed kleptomaniac. I’ll never see a red cent.”
 
“I’ll leave you a check, then.”
 
“I’m sorry, darlin’, but traditionally speaking, bribes are cash only.” He whispered, “You don’t want
it to be traced.”
 
“It’s not a bribe. I made it worth your while to stop playing. Think of it as a tip.”
 
“Pourboires are usually given as an expression of appreciation.”
 
“Pourboires?”
 
“Tips. Why did you want me to stop? That was a whole lot of hatred aimed at poor Mr. Porter’s classic.”
 
Cordy sniffed and looked at the far wall over Martini Boy’s head. “I’d rather not say.”
 
“All that hostility can’t be good for you. Why don’t we discuss it over a . . . champagne cocktail?”
 
She knew her face betrayed her—her eyes widened, her eyebrows shot up, and her mouth opened a little more than usual. There was a reason she wasn’t a professional poker player or counterintelligence operative.
 
“No. Thank you. I should go.”
 
He tsked and shook his head. “I would’ve never taken you for a welsher.”
 
“I’m not—Don’t worry, you’ll get your money.”
 
His full lips kicked up at the corners, making him more appealing than she cared to admit. It was the
kind of appealing that made her want to stick around.
 
“As I see it, you owe me a hundred dollars and my martini shaker. Which I thank you for returning, by
the way. It’s another reason I need to buy you a drink. In fact, I hardly think a drink’s enough—after all, that shaker is very important to me. I believe I owe you at least a dinner. Would you do me the honor of having dinner with me this evening, Miss . . . ? It is Miss, correct?” He didn’t need to know her name or her marital status. Not with that appealing smile chipping away at her defenses. “That’s very generous of you, but I don’t know you and you don’t know me. We don’t have to be friends. I’m sure you have plenty of friends. I’ll give you your hundred dollars, you can take your shaker—it’s right there on the bar, safe and sound—and we’ll go our separate ways. It’s not necessary to have dinner. It’s not necessary to have drinks or coffee or . . . anything. We had an encounter, then a business transaction, and that’s all. Besides, you can’t leave your shift—as you pointed out, you only just started playing, and the cocktail crowd is going to want their Gershwin as a backdrop for their scintillating conversations.”
 
She looked at the top of the upright. “Hey, where’s your brandy snifter? You’re good. A guy like
you could make a lot of . . . pourboires.” She gazed at his face just in time to see it brighten. He didn’t smile, but his lips twitched and his eyes lighted. She was on a roll and it felt good. “After you’re done with your Harry Connick, Jr. stint, surely you have a few martinis to make, don’t you? Or do you only bartend on top of the mountain with your friends the goats?”
 
He swiveled on the piano bench to face her.
 
“Honey, your drink’s getting warm, and that’s a tragedy.” He stood. He was taller than she’d predicted.
He had six inches on her, easy. She didn’t like that she had to look up to him now, after getting to look down at him this  hole time. “Let’s go rescue that drink,” he said, and turned her with a finger on her shoulder. That finger then breezed the small of her back, propelling her toward the bar. “And careful about speaking ill of mountain goats,” he said as they walked. “They’re integral to the ecosystem here, they please the tourists, and they’re remarkably rugged, graceful, nimble creatures.” He pulled out her barstool for her. Cordy thought about dismissing his gesture, but decided to finish her cocktail. He amused her, and that was worth a few more minutes of her time. “I didn’t say anything bad about goats. I called them your friends. What does that say about you?” Plus he was easy on her eyes. He had great hair—the dark brown of a horse’s deep bay coat, and glossy—with regular features, a nose straight and assertive as a dressage whip, wide, dark eyes, full lips…A woman could do worse. He was elegant, yes, but oh-so-unavoidably masculine. A dangerous combination, but perfect for temporary scenery at a bar in a ski resort in Aspen.
 
She sat. He stood. He sipped her drink. “Hey!” she said.
 
“Just as I feared. Too warm.” He beckoned the bartender.
 
“George, the lady is in dire need of another champagne cocktail, if you will. This one is tepid. And
I’ll have one as well.”
 
“It was fine,” Cordy said.
 
“No, it wasn’t. There’s nothing worse than warm champagne.”
 
“I can think of something worse.”
 
He sat, then looked at her, and his gaze was so focused, she felt there must be a red laser dot on her
nose. Her pulse actually kicked up a notch. “And, pray tell, what would that be?” This had to be what an impala felt like when it knew it couldn’t outrun the lion.
 
“Impertinent pianists.”
 
“Come now, was I really that bad?”
 
“You weren’t exactly cooperative. You could’ve stopped when I asked the first time.”
 
“I assure you, under the right circumstances, with the right woman, I can be the very picture of cooperation.”
 
Cordy shifted on her barstool. Where was George with her cocktail? And why was Martini Boy with her
and not at the piano? Normally she wouldn’t have asked, but her experience with him had been anything but normal. “Don’t you need to get back to the piano? People are starting to fidget.”
 
“They’ll manage,” he said, looking around the room. “Would you be so kind as to hand me my
shaker? I’d like to inspect it for damage.”
 
Cordy handed it to him and noted his clean, flat, broad nails rounding out his capable hands. She also
felt their fingers touch for a fraction of a second.
 
“Yeah, so, about that. What was up with that?”
 
“What was up with what?”
 
“You dropping it. If it means so much to you, shouldn’t you have been more careful?”
 
“People drop things all the time,” he said, turning the shaker as he examined it. “It’s an international
habit.”
 
“Clumsy people drop things. You play the piano like a dream, so I’m guessing you’re not usually
clumsy. All that hand-eye coordination and everything.”
 
“You give me an immense amount of credit. I hear Van Cliburn had an embarrassing and expensive habit
of dropping crystal.”
 
Who was this guy who talked like he’d just stepped out of 1920? Cordy was slightly surprised he was in
color and not black-and-white like an old movie. Nobody really talked like this. He was putting on an act.
He had to be. Well, two could play at this game. She was going to say something out of character.  Their drinks arrived and Cordy took a good long sip. She furloughed her internal editor, the one who kept her scrupulously polite, then looked at him.
 
“Why were you in a tux riding the ski lift the wrong way and carrying a martini shaker at six thirty in the
morning?”
 
He grinned and took a few swallows of the water George had given them with the drinks, making her
wait. He set the glass down and licked his lips. “Earlier in the evening, I attended a party that demanded
formal wear.”
 
“What kind of party?”
 
“A formal one.”
 
She beetled her brows at him. “It went on until sunrise? At your age? Were the cops involved? You
can tell me. After all, it’s not like we’ll see each other again.”
 
“Now that would be a tragedy of epic proportions.”
 
“Trust me, it’ll be fine.”
 
“Doubtful.”
 
“Was it a wedding? Which would be unusual on a Thursday, but not unheard of.”
 
“No.”
 
“Graduation? Bar mitzvah? Barn raising?”
 
“You’re not going to guess the occasion. Have you considered the possibility that I might just enjoy
dressing up?”
 
“Oh!” Was this code? Was he telling her he was gay? Which would be great, because they could pal
around and she wouldn’t have to worry about getting involved. She would never have guessed, but these days, with straight metrosexuals around every corner, her gaydar was unreliable.
 
“Oh?” he asked.
 
She shrugged. “Oh.”
 
“What does ‘oh’ mean?”
 
“ ‘Oh’ means ‘oh.’ ” She couldn’t tell him what she was thinking. Even her absent editor returned to keep her silent.
 
“ ‘Oh’ means ‘oh,’ huh? All right, then. Since you were so kind as to return my shaker, I’m not going to
press you for an answer.”
 
“Now we’re even,” Cordy said, feeling positively cocky. “You didn’t answer my question and I didn’t answer yours. Let’s just enjoy our drinks, okay?”
 
“Absolutely. Whatever you prefer.” He tipped his flute to clink with hers, sipped, then paused. “Hmm.”
 
“What?” she asked.
 
“Nothing. Just hmm.”
 
“What?”
 
“You won’t tell me what ‘oh’ means, but you expect me to tell you what ‘hmm’ means?”
 
Cordy went for the chink in his armor. “It would be the gentlemanly thing to do.”
 
“If that’s what you think. I was thinking how it’s curious that a woman such as yourself is here alone.”
 
“What makes you think I’m alone?”
 
“That would be because you are.”
 
“Why?”
 
“You’re in a resort town, at a resort. Most guests come with at least one other person. In your case, I
would expect you to be here with a man. A significant other of some sort. Spouse, boyfriend, fiancé—”
 
“Don’t say that word.”
 
“Fiancé?”
 
“Yes. Just . . . don’t. Or I’ll take that shaker and throw it off a cliff.” Cordy smoothed her hair behind
her ear and stared at the bubbles zipping to the surface of her drink. Why did he have to say that?
 
“I promise not to say ‘fiancé’ anymore. If you tell me why I can’t.”
 
She felt like Martini Boy was squeezing her windpipe.
 
“I can’t. Okay? It’s a . . . thing.” The words choked out. He must’ve noticed because he nodded and didn’t argue. She wished she was one of those people who could laugh and make light of it, but in this case, she couldn’t. “Excuse me for a moment. I’ll be right back.” She reached under the bar to snag her purse from the hook. Purse hooks under bars were a godsend. More points for Pinnacle. Martini Boy
stood. More points for Martini Boy.
 
“Will you be back?” he asked, and sounded concerned.
 
She slid off the stool. “Yes. I need to use the restroom.”
 
By “use” she meant “regain my composure, then figure out what I want to do next and if it involves
you.”
 
AUTHOR:
Colette Auclair has been a copywriter for more than twenty years. She’s ridden and shown horses since she was ten and owns a lovely twenty-year-old Thoroughbred mare. A 2012 Golden Heart finalist in the contemporary romance category, Thrown was her first novel and Jumped was her second.  Please visit http://www.coletteauclair.com/.